November 12, 2019
By Carolyn Yates, PT, DPT
Hey mama! You’re doing great and are on the homestretch now. Before you know it, that little bundle of joy will be snuggled up in your arms 🙌
Let’s be honest, childbearing is no walk in the park. It’s beautiful and natural of course, but it is also very intense. Your body goes through so many amazing changes to grow a new human. Unfortunately, the resources for preparing your body during pregnancy and for rehabilitating after labor and delivery are seriously lacking. Here are three easy exercises you can do right now to prep your body and reduce your chance of injury during labor and delivery.
Let’s get started!
Studies have shown that doing self-release work 1-2 times per week can help reduce the likelihood of trauma caused to the perineum as well as ongoing perineal pain postpartum.
Kegels are great but they are not the end-all-be-all pelvic floor exercise. It is equally as important to stretch and relax your muscles as it is to strengthen them. Belly breathing incorporates strengthening as well as relaxation and lengthening of the muscles that many people forget to stretch! Preparing your muscles for labor and delivery through belly breathing work can potentially help shorten the first and second stages of labor as well as reduce the likelihood of having urinary incontinence during pregnancy and postpartum.
Take a moment to think about what your body is doing. It really is spectacular! You are doing great! Labor and delivery will be intense; no sugar-coating here. However, these three simple exercises can help prepare your body and prevent injuries during birth. If you are reading this and are really confused, then please reach out to your local pelvic floor specialist and make an appointment. Your body and future self will thank you!
Seehusen, D. A., & Raleigh, M. (2004). Antenatal perineal massage to prevent birth trauma. American Family Physician, 89(5), 335-336.
Bø, K., Hilde, G., Jensen, J. S., Siafarikas, F., & Engh, M. E. (2013) Too tight to give birth? Assessment of pelvic floor muscle function in 277 nulliparous pregnant women. International Urogynecology Journal, 24(12), 2065-2070.
Boyle, R., Hay-Smith, E. J., Cody, J. D., & Mørkved, S. (2012). Pelvic floor muscle training for prevention and treatment of urinary and faecal incontinence in antenatal and postnatal women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 10, CD007471.
Prince, N., Dawood, R., & Jackson, S. R. (2010). Pelvic floor exercise for urinary incontinence: A systematic literature review. Maturitas, 67(4), 309–315.
Carolyn Yates, PT, DPT is a Colorado State licensed Physical Therapist with a pelvic floor rehabilitation specialty. She received a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) from Belmont University School of Physical Therapy and is the owner and head physical therapist of Verity Physical Therapy & Wellness in Boulder, CO.
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